As one of the hordes of people living close to the always seedy Washington Avenue, I'm constantly excited by a new restaurant opening on the tourist-laden thoroughfare.
I don't expect to ever find anything other than bad pizza, bad burgers and bad tattoos on one of Miami Beach's main drags. Yet I remain tethered to the hope that one day an acceptable eatery might open within walking distance. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be saved from a life of Big Pink delivery.
So when the suspiciously named Sriracha House opened last month as a noodle house with self-described street-style, Pan-Asian offerings I let myself hope.
Ordering is done Chipotle style. Select your starch, your protein, your vegetables, your sauce and have at it. The combination is quickly stir fried in a wok and handed over in a Chinese takeout-style box. A portion of whole-wheat noodles had a pleasant bite and came in with plenty of sliced pork, crunchy bok choy and meaty shiitake mushroom for about $10. All are topped with a variety of home made sauces ranging from Indonesian black pepper and lemongrass to and sweet-sour Mongolian tamarind.
"We wanted to bring something simple, something from Asia," said owner Emilio Benzadon. The menu was inspired by trips with his wife Jessica Knopf, who once ran the Clarabelle's Cupcakes food truck, to Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam and the Philippines.
"We always liked street food and wanted to do something simple, healthy and inexpensive," he added.
Though the name may give rise to legal concern Benzadon and Knopf weren't concerned, saying the name is more akin to ketchup than an actual brand name for which they could face legal repercussions.
"It's just a region," Benzadon said referring to the eastern Thai town of Si Racha where the wildly popular chili-garlic sauce is said to have originated.
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While Sriracha House's sauces have a bit of the over salty, over sweet tinge that's commonplace is Asian-American food it's a big improvement over most of its neighbors. Still it's a welcome addition alongside Jeremiah Bullfrog's Subatomic Subs inside the Wolfsonian Museum and Maoz Vegetarian, which New Times named for best falafel in 2013.
Plus they're bringing in beer from lauded Fort Lauderdale brewery Funky Buddha, and Jessica is in the back of the house whipping up creamy shaved ices flavored with tropical fruits. She swears there's no butter or cream in them. Try one and you'll swear the opposite.